But how do you know which one to go for? To relieve some of the stress of searching, we’ve pulled together some of the best used automatic cars currently available for you to consider.

Why should you buy a cheap automatic used car?

There are plenty of reasons to consider buying a cheap automatic car, including:

  • Automatic cars are great for keeping things easy – you don’t need to change gears and the car will do the hard work for you
  • Automatic gearboxes are fitted to cars of all shapes and sizes, so there are plenty of options to choose from that cater to a wide variety of lifestyles
  • Cheaper automatic cars still come with plenty of equipment, since automatic gearboxes are usually fitted to higher-specification cars from new
  • Some automatic cars have gear ‘paddles’ behind the steering wheel, so you can still change gears should you fancy it

What should you consider before buying a cheap automatic used car?

Before deciding whether a cheap automatic used car is a good choice for you, there are some factors to consider, such as:

  • You need to make sure that any automatic car has been well looked after – automatic gearboxes can be expensive to repair so it’s important that any used model has been maintained properly in order to avoid a large bill further on
  • Because an automatic gearbox is more complex than a manual one, it’ll need a little more maintenance – so you should factor this into your future costs
  • If you’ve never driven an automatic car, then you might want to take a test drive first as the experience can feel a little alien to newcomers. Some people can feel a little less immersed as they’re not changing gears by themselves
  • Some automatic cars can be more expensive to insure than a manual version, so bear this in mind if you’re looking to save money. This is particularly the case with more powerful cars or larger SUVs

The best cheap automatic cars

  • Volkswagen up!
  • SEAT Leon
  • Hyundai i10
  • Mercedes-Benz A-Class
  • MINI Hatch
  • Audi A3
  • Skoda Superb
  • Toyota Aygo
  • Honda Jazz
  • BMW i3

1. Volkswagen up! (2011-Present)

If you’re after a car that packs premium touches, efficient engines and that all-important automatic gearbox, then the Volkswagen up! should definitely be on your list.

As well as being a great cheap used automatic car, it’s also a model which has a lot more space than you might expect from such a compact vehicle.

It’s superb for people driving in urban areas too, and its small size makes it really easy to park. The automatic version takes this ease-of-use one step further and makes the up! feel even more like a go-kart than before.

  • The up! might be small, but clever folding seats and a great design mean it’s got plenty of boot space.
  • The boxy shape allows the up! to offer enough headroom for taller drivers.
  • Automatic up! models are still very frugal which helps to keep bills stay as low as possible.

Best Features

  • The up! might be small, but clever folding seats and a great design mean it’s got plenty of boot space.
  • The boxy shape allows the up! to offer enough headroom for taller drivers.
  • Automatic up! models are still very frugal which helps to keep bills stay as low as possible.

2. SEAT Leon (2012-2020)

The SEAT Leon is virtually identical to the Volkswagen Golf, which means that you get the same great build quality – and the option of an automatic gearbox – but at a slightly lower price.

Though the latest generation Leon does look great, if you’re on a budget then the third generation model – made from 2012 – is ideal for drivers who still want plenty of equipment but at a lower price.

It’s arguably more stylish than much of its competition too, with sharper lines and bolder aesthetics. Hatchback versions will be the most commonly found, but there are more practical (though slightly more expensive) estates available, too.

Best Features

  • Solid build quality means squeaks and rattles are out of the ordinary
  • Efficient powertrain line-up on both petrol and diesel models
  • Bright exterior paint options make this a very eye-catching but cheap automatic car

3. Hyundai i10 (2013-2022)

Hyundai’s i10 packs a lot of equipment and style into a compact package. As well as being a cheap automatic car to buy, it’s also incredibly efficient so you shouldn’t have to spend too much when it comes to running costs.

While there is a newer third-generation model available, the second-generation car represents superb value for money and still closely resembles the car that replaced it.

It’s really easy to drive, too, with nice light controls which could make the i10 a great cheap automatic car for all types of drivers.

Best Features

  • Compact dimensions that make it easy to park and drive in urban areas
  • Small, frugal engines that reduce time spent at the petrol station
  • A lot of equipment as standard, including daytime running lights and air conditioning

4. Mercedes A-Class (2012-2018)

The A-Class has always been a more upmarket model in the traditional hatchback area, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some great used examples that can deliver on price, too.

The vast majority of used examples will be kitted out with an automatic gearbox and they’re some of the best in the business.

Built between 2012 and 2018, The third-generation A-Class is a great choice as it’s still got loads of upmarket features but can be obtained by those on a budget. It also features a sleek exterior design which still looks great today.

Best Features

  • Well-equipped as standard, with technology that still holds its own today
  • Variety of efficient petrol and diesel engines to choose from
  • Automatic gearbox is one of the best you’ll find

5. MINI Hatch (2006-2013)

The MINI Hatch has been an absolute hit since its rebirth in the 2000s. Encapsulating some of the character of the original classic, the modern MINI Hatch is one of the true motoring success stories. Because it’s been on sale for some time now, there are loads of used examples that don’t break the bank.

While there are various generations to choose from, it’s the second-generation car we’d opt for. As a great option when it comes to cheap automatic used cars, it’s available with either petrol or diesel engines, allowing you to find the right match for your lifestyle.

What we really love though is the retro-inspired interior, which feels like it’s got a great blend of modern touches but with some classic style.

Best Features

  • Cool retro looks that offer a modern twist to a classic formula
  • Super-sharp handling makes it great fun to drive
  • Was very popular when new, so there are plenty of great used examples out there

6. Audi A3 (2012-2020)

The Audi A3 is a great option for drivers who want a car that feels a little more upmarket. Throughout its many generations, the A3 has established itself a great reputation for being practical, comfortable and really refined.

We’re particularly fond of the third-generation car that was produced between 2012 and 2020. Produced in big numbers, it’s widely available on the used market at some pretty competitive prices while the vast majority of models come with an auto gearbox, too.

The A3 has proven to be a big hit with all types of drivers, particularly those who do longer-distance journeys, as it feels very at home on the motorway. Look out for Sportback models if you’re wanting a bit more space and five doors.

Best Features

  • Top build quality that feels box-fresh even after plenty of miles
  • Wide variety of powertrains to choose from, including an early e-tron plug-in hybrid
  • Cars built from 2016 onwards offer a sharper design and more interior tech, but will bring a higher cost

7. Skoda Superb (2015-Present)

Space is the name of the game with the Skoda Superb. It has always offered loads of room, but the latest third-generation car – which arrived in 2015 and can now be purchased for budget-beating prices – really nailed that practicality brief.

Either in hatch or estate layouts, it’s got a top-notch interior room that makes it one of the best budget family cars out there. The DSG automatic gearbox is smooth and easy to use, taking much of the stress out of longer journeys, while clever touches such as an ice scraper in the fuel filler door and a dashboard clip for holding parking tickets make life much easier.

Frugal diesel engines make the Superb not only one of the cheapest automatic cars to buy but also one of the cheapest to run, while petrol options are efficient in their own right.

Best Features

  • Superb value for money on the used market
  • Intelligent design with clever touches to make life easier
  • Efficient powertrain line-up reduces running costs

8. Toyota Aygo (2014-2021)

If you’re after an automatic car, you don’t always have to opt for a big car. In fact, cars like the Toyota Aygo prove exactly that, with this pint-sized city car available with a great automatic gearbox that fits our brief perfectly.

Not only does it suit our list of cheap automatic cars ideally, it’s also great to drive and really frugal. Maintenance costs should be kept low thanks to the Aygo’s compact 1.0-litre petrol engine, too.

Another bonus is that because of the Aygo’s low price when new, it’s also a great buy on the used market, while all versions come with plenty of features including USB connectivity and DAB digital radio.

Best Features

  • Very low insurance group makes it great for people looking for lower premiums or new drivers
  • Though the Aygo might be quite small, you can fold down the rear seats easily to help expand the amount of boot space on offer
  • Low emissions ensure that the Aygo will be cheap to tax

9. Honda Jazz (2015-2020)

Honda’s Jazz is one of those real ‘Tardis’ cars. Like Doctor Who’s famous time machine, the Jazz is a car which has always managed to be much larger on the inside than its exterior proportions would lead you to believe. As a result, people who need some extra space in a car that still remains easy to park and position have always leaned towards the Jazz.

It’s available with a great automatic gearbox, while the third generation – which is one of the cheaper automatic cars on sale today – packs everything you could need.

It’s got a great reputation for reliability, too, while handy ‘Magic Seats’ in the back fold in a clever configuration to help you load taller items – like plants, for example – into the back of the car easily.

Best Features

  • Honda’s reputation for mechanical reliability is legendary, so well-maintained Jazz models should run and run
  • Available with a hybrid setup that can help to keep fuel bills low
  • All versions get loads of equipment including electric windows, USB connectors and steering wheel-mounted radio controls

10. BMW i3 (2014-2022)

If you’re after a cheap automatic car which also happens to be electric, then the i3 could be right on the money. One of a whole new generation of EVs, the i3 incorporated a load of next-generation features and technology, including a lightweight body that used loads of weight-saving carbon fibre.

But despite this, it’s a really great budget-orientated option. Early models might not be able to deliver the best electric range – around 80 miles, in some cases – but if you’re only doing shorter journeys then the i3 could drastically cut the costs of driving.

If you’d like a little bit of a safety net, then there’s also an i3 with a range-extending petrol engine – you fill it up and it’s used to add some extra charge to the battery should it run low.

Best Features

  • One of the best budget electric cars currently available.
  • Ideal for shorter trips in urban environments.
  • All versions of the i3 are automatic, making your browsing process more simple.

Tips for finding and buying a cheap automatic car

As with all used cars, it’s worth getting some ideas in place before you even step foot on a forecourt. A budget is a primary place to begin – get a price in mind and stick with it. It’s also worth factoring in monthly costs such as tax, fuel and repairs as part of this.

A history check can also be a great tool when you’re looking at a cheap automatic car. Often available for a small fee, these will let you know whether or not the car has any outstanding finance or has previously been written off.

Reviewing expert advice is also worthwhile, so head to our reviews section to get an in-depth look at a variety of models that could be right for you. Remember to filter your searches to an automatic gearbox when browsing online too, so you don’t need to wade through loads of adverts that don’t apply to you.

Cheap used automatic car FAQ

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